Locally and in Iowa, people have faced a flurry of stressful events and crises in the last year. During Mental Health Awareness Month, experts say it might not seem obvious that help is needed, but the signs may develop over time.
There were a number of stressful events in 2020. From the pandemic, to the election, to last summer’s derecho storm in Iowa, many segments of the population are emerging from a stressful era.
Peggy Huppert who is the executive director of the Iowa chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness said that it’s a lot to simply shake off without being aware of the lasting effects on a person’s mental well-being.
For example, she cited research showing suicides peaked nearly three years after the financial crisis of 2008.
Experts say the signs to monitor include changes in a person’s sleeping habits, or a general lack of energy or interest in most activities.
Despite greater mental-health awareness, Huppert said people often are still reluctant to raise concerns about a loved one’s situation. Huppert said friends and family might feel like they’re causing trouble if they speak up, but she insists that isn’t the case.
She noted that young people might especially feel the effects from recent isolation, but are not likely to open up to others about those feelings.
Even with many Iowans vaccinated and much of society reopening, Huppert said it’s hard to forget the emotional turmoil of the past year. As groups get together again, she said there’s another way to spot a warning sign.
And as more people head back to the office, she said it’s important to foster a supportive environment in the workplace.